Postgame: UNC coach Roy Williams on loss to Duke at #ACCTourney
THE MODERATOR: Coach, just a brief opening statement, and we’ll go to questions.
COACH WILLIAMS: Congratulations to Duke. It was a big time game for a while, and then it got so it was not a big time game. I think the most disciplined, the best coached team, the most focused team is the one that won the game tonight. I didn’t do as good a job as Mike did.
One of our biggest focus, play defense without fouling. They shot 37 free throws. He outrebound them by 11. We take 28 more shots, but we didn’t make shots. Put them on the free-throw line way, way, way too much. Assist-to-error ratio is 23-10. You look at all those things, it looks pretty, but you can’t continually foul people.
At the end of the game, 8 or 10 of those free throws, we were trying to foul at the end. But we shot eight free throws the first half. They shot 14. We had some foul trouble, and some of those were silly fouls. It’s my job to make sure that we make — we’re more disciplined than we were.
Q. Coach, you had a 13-point lead, then they went on a 20-4 run. What were the factors in that other than Joel Berry being on the bench for four?
COACH WILLIAMS: I think our offense stopped moving. They picked us up a little bit in the backcourt. We wasted some time in the backcourt getting it down. We really did stop moving. When we had shots — I remember a couple of them, I think we rushed them a little bit, forced them a little bit.
Guys, we shot 56 percent in the first half and 28 in the second half. We shoot 28 percent in the second half, they shoot 59 percent because they got better movement, better screens, better shots than we did.
Q. Coach, you went about eight to ten minutes without Berry in the lineup. It appeared Nate was playing pretty confidently, but not having your team leader on the floor, how much of an effect does that have?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, it had an effect, but that takes away from what Duke did. I really believe that. I don’t want to use any excuses. North Carolina was still playing Duke. Nate did some good things.
For us, our whole offense got stagnant, and our whole defense was bad. We’d run off a guy and leave a wide open three-point shooter in the corner a couple of times. So you can’t do those types of games.
If you’ve got any questions for the players, let’s ask them now so we can let them go back and dress and the whole bit. Anybody got any questions for the players?
Q. This is for Isaiah. What changed offensively for you guys in the second half? You guys were pounding the paint in the first. The second, it seemed like Duke was just stopping you. What changed in the second half to sort of change the offense?
ISAIAH HICKS: As Coach said, we stopped moving. That really made the difference in our offense.
Q. This is a question for Nate. Duke has struggled to defend the two-point shot at times this year. Coach Krzyzewski has not been pleased with their field goal percentage defense, but they’ve been very good at defending the three-point shot, and they were tonight. When you’re beyond the arc, what do you see from them defensively that it makes it harder to get a three against them sometimes than it does a two?
NATE BRITT: Duke likes to take three-point shots on the offensive end, so I feel like they do a very good job of defending it. Duke often tries to shoot threes off offensive rebounds, and they do a great job of defending it. They apply a lot of ball pressure on the perimeter, which we try to take advantage of and try to get in the paint.
Q. Roy, I’m sorry if this sounds impolite, but you went — they outscored you 13-2 in under four minutes, and before you got around to calling a time-out. Do you think you missed one there?
COACH WILLIAMS: It’s not impolite. I’ve had people say I don’t call time-outs my whole life, but we’ve won some games, and it’s the way we do it. I always think that that’s what we practice for. We practice every day being able to play without me calling them over to say I love you and singing Kumbaya and all that BS. I did say BS today. I’m better than I was yesterday.
Somebody could say that, but that’s the way I’ve coached my whole life. That’s nice of you to say impolite. I’ve had people say it my whole life. I’m dumb enough to think, if I die and I have more time-outs left than anybody, I’ll get something from it.
There was a time there when I looked up — and the fact I called a time-out when we got one 30 seconds later kind of thing. But kids have to be able to handle adversity, and that’s the reason we practice. We’ve had some great comebacks when I’ve had time-outs left at the end. I’ve seen some games on TV yet this year when games were lost when coaches wished they had a time-out. I don’t ever want to coach us out of a game.
But that is the way we practice. We do it all the time. I’m too dumb, too stubborn, whatever. I’m not going to change for 29 years. I didn’t let the guy get wide open for a three-point shot. What am I going to do?
Q. Spoiler, Jayson Tatum is a pretty good athlete. He had a run there at the end of the first half that narrowed your lead going into the second. How critical was that to ultimately Duke coming back?
COACH WILLIAMS: I don’t think you can point at any one part of the game. It was the whole game. Even talking about the time-out, that was part of it too. We talked about playing without fouling, and we took — we talked about getting the ball inside. We take a quick three. We take a bad shot. They run out on the break because somebody doesn’t get back, and then we foul the guy as he’s laying it up. That’s not very smart. We talked about those things a great deal, but I didn’t do a good enough job with it. I really didn’t.
Q. Coach, I know it’s just after disheartening loss, but you’re still looked at as the No. 1 seed likely. What do you have to do to turn this around after such a tough loss to a big rival?
COACH WILLIAMS: Well, right now it’s best for me to stay away from my players because I’m ready to jump off the top of the building or something like that. So giving them some space. But I did tell them in the locker room — and it’s true — my teams have taken me to eight Final Fours. I’ve never taken a team, but my teams have taken me to eight Final Fours. Six of those times, we lost in the semifinals of conference tournament, and two times, last year being one of them that we won the conference tournament and still made the Final Four.
There’s a lot to still play for. I’m not trying to make anybody mad. Our final goal was not to win the ACC Tournament. Our final goal was to play on the last Monday night and win the game there.
I told them that after I said a couple of other things to them, but hopefully we’ll get to be more disciplined and tougher and understand fouling hurts your team and all those things. And if we do that, then we’ve got a chance. I’ve had two players during those six times stand up in the locker room and say something to everybody else about we’re good enough to make the Final Four if we just play, and one of them was dumb enough to say we’re good enough to make the Final Four if we just do what he says, and he pointed at me. So he was pretty dumb. But I did give them that message, but right now I’m really ticked.
Q. Along those lines, over the years how have you dealt with these kinds of losses differently when you do have stuff ahead but it’s disappointing in the moment?
COACH WILLIAMS: I don’t think about suicide. If I ever jump off the top of a building, have it investigated because somebody pushed my rear end. Understand that part.
But it’s disappointing because we didn’t do what we asked to do. We didn’t do what we practiced to do. We didn’t do those kinds of things.
And then we were not tough enough. Begging the officials every time a call’s made. You’re throwing up your hands. Those are disgusting things to me. You can’t always blame somebody else in life. You’ve got to do a better job. I’ve got to do a better job with my team.
Right now it’s difficult, but when we figure out the path that we’re going to walk back home instead of riding the plane or bus or anything, when we ever get back to Chapel Hill, I’ll try to coach the heck out of them.
Q. Meeks was out for a significant amount of time. What was going through your mind of having him sit out for so long?
COACH WILLIAMS: We’ve been trying to get Kennedy through playing in short periods of time the whole season, and we need to give Tony some time as well. Kennedy’s performance goes down drastically once he gets winded. His stamina is not as good as we would like for it to be. We’ve held him out of a bunch of practices because of a sore knee, but he’s come to play.
Last night he was defensive player of the game. I don’t even know how many scores tonight. He scored 19. Last night he was the defensive player of the game.
For us, it’s the way we’re trying to milk as much time of him as we can, knowing that we had hoped to play three straight nights, and that’s just the way we’ve done it all year.
Q. Justin Jackson kind of faded towards the end of the game. He didn’t shoot too well. What do you think changed? What happened to him down the stretch in the second half?
COACH WILLIAMS: These last three games, Justin hadn’t been the player he was before. I think he’s putting too much pressure on himself. I think he’s trying to do too much and perhaps take in some shots that weren’t quite as good. Tonight he had four assists and really did some good things, but the shots didn’t go in as much.
I think I’ve had a little talk with him. I’ve got to do some more because I think he’s putting a little too much on himself. But at Virginia, Duke at home, Miami last night and tonight, probably in the four-game stretch it’s been about as poorly as he’s shot the ball all year long. But I do think he’s probably putting too much on himself.
Guys, here and here, both of you, that was awfully nice, you thought you were being mean asking difficult questions. But 29 years of this stuff, I appreciate that. Thank you.
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